Family History Pieces

Four hundred years before the birth of Jesus, Malachi ends the Old Testament with these words, “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord: and he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.” My heart has been turned to my forefathers. I have been actively engaged in family history research since 2007. This body of work is the result of connecting what I have learned to my art making. In breaking away from the standard symbol of a family tree, I have focused upon the rich tradition of Icons and Reliquaries in Medieval Europe. The objects and images chosen are infused with personal and family stories that I have collected. Just as the venerated body parts of saints contained in European reliquaries acted as a conduit to supreme power, the relics I create help me to understand, access, and honor my family roots.

 This piece is inspired by my uncle, Murry Everett Lanegan 29 Nov 1935 - 20 Feb 2005 (below).  Murry was in an auto accident while serving in the Navy and as a result was quadriplegic the rest of his life - that is always how I know him.  He was the most kind, gentle and beautiful man I knew as a youngster yet he was strong as an ox. Looking at mammoth grain towers isolated in the landscape remind me of Murry - a crippled way of life yet strong and beautiful. The structure is constructed of the lath from my home as I remolded the bathroom and the wheelchair is found, similar to the one Murry used.  A few more final touches and It will be complete.

These maguettes are made from cereal boxes and masking tape with the longest dimension being 5".  I had always planned on making them on a larger scale in a more permanent material. The response to these pieces in their current state was beyond what I could imagine so I sealed them with an acrylic gel medium to ensure they would not fall apart. They will now go to a show in Jan 2017.

 Homestead Relics II
11.5" x 23" x 2" wood frame with cast figures and cross stitch sampler under glass

Detail of figures

 Homestead Relics 
24" x 40" x 1.5" paper collage on wood panel with found objects

Detail of objects

Pilgrimage to Ancestral Homeland III: Winifred, MT 
24" x 24"  Paper collage with found objects - 2016 

Text on the map reads: 
Birth place of grandmother Ethel Maxine Dillon 1916-2006 and father Loron Elihu Lanegan 1939-1999 

Pilgrimage to ancestral Homeland I: Inistioge, Ireland 
4' x 9' fabric collage and stand 15” x 22” x 36” tall. Reworked and Completed 2016

This is a fabric collage that traces my pilgrimage route from Inistioge to Ballygub Old, Kilkenny, Ireland. Lanigans lived in the area in the early 1700’s, possibly earlier, and many are still there today.  On the stand are relics collected during my pilgrimage along with my father’s old bible. My heart has been turned and I seek out opportunities to visit the lands of my forefathers.

Ancestral Reliquary I: Grandpa"s Tools
18" x 28" x 84" tall Reclaimed barn wood and found objects - 2016

The pitch fork in this piece has been used by 4 generations of Lanegans

Holding Ground
32" x 26" x 60" tall Wood, stone and found objects - 2016

This is a model of the home I lived in for a few years during high school. The home is a strong symbol of family values and is regarded as the place where one learns the principles that form the foundation of life.  This piece is rooted in my personal experience of reaching out to other sources in order to secure for myself a footing that I could build upon.  As a father of five, there are also references to the contemporary pressures and forces that strive to erode the morals that form the foundation of home and family. 


Ancestral Reliquary II: Sylvina Belle Frohlich
28" x 40" Paper collage with found objects. Completed 2016

This reliquary combines many facets from the life of Sylvina Belle Frohlich, one of my great grandmothers.  She was a strong woman driven by a faith in God, family and community.  After her first husband died Sylvina took correspondence courses learning to become a seamstress in order to support her three young children.  When her second husband died sewing continued to be her rock as she supported now five children. The log cabin quilt pattern (a symbol of warmth, love and security) represents the pioneering spirit that was at the core of who Sylvina was. Her story inspires me and I hope it will serve as an example to my four daughters.

A Welding Link
2' x 7' x 7'  Mixed Media. Completed 2015

Detail of small building and one alcove of large structure. Jar in small building contains my breath while jars in the alcoves of the large structure contain samples from the burial places of my father, grandfather, gr-grandfather, and gr-gr-grandfather. In this piece I am an anchor to my forefathers.

Pilgrimage to Ancestral Homeland II: Ballylanigan, Ireland
20" x 32" Paper collage with soil from the site - 2015 

Text on the piece reads: 
Lanegan is an anglicized form of the old Gaelic - O'Lonagain. It is beleived to mean a male descendant of the supplier. The original territory of the O'Lonagains lay in Urmhumhan, an ancient land division comprising much of the modern counties of Kilkenny and Tipperary, Ireland. Ballylanigan, situated near Callan, County Kilkenny, derives its name from this clan.
On Wednesday June 18, 2014 I went to Ballylanigan on pilgrimage. It was a gorgeous summer day. I took a winding course on narrow roads encompassed by vibrant greens and ancient stone walls. I was struck by how rural and peaceful it was, a place where time had seemed to stand still.
The experience was as holy as anything. I ran my hands through the same soil as my forebearers and viewed with my own eyes the scenes that were spread before them. Deep down in a place I cannot fully explain - It felt like a return to home.

Relics from My Childhood Home
16" x 40" Paper Collage with found objects - 2014

This collage is constructed from a panoramic photo of the Darnielle's farm in Arden, Stevens, Washington.  This was our neighbor when I was born and I was a farm hand for Jack Darnielle for two summers in the late 1980's.

Family History Reliquary
4" x 20" x 16" opened Mixed media - 2014

Detail of relics. Each item has a story and significance. The silver dollar was given to my Grandmother by my grandfather as an engagement token in 1933, the arrowhead was picked up in the plains of Nebraska by my gr-grandmother when she was a child and so on.  The items in the jars are collected from my trips to research family history; water and pebbles from a river I camped at, wood fragments from an old family homestead site, a fishing fly tied by my father and used by my brother-in-law to catch our dinner, and the like. The piece was constructed for the show Movement and Meaning: The Power of Pilgrimage.

Panoramic photo taken from the top of Croagh Patrick June 2014

Croagh Patrick Pilgrimage
14" x 42" Paper collage with found objects - 2014 

Detail of objects pick up on the trail.

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